June 30, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: California
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Posted by: James Wolfe, Press Attaché
It would be easy for one to assume that my (adopted) home state needs no introduction, but that wouldn’t be true even if there were no more to it than its most famous elements: Los Angeles (with Hollywood and Disneyland), San Francisco (Golden Gate Bridge), and Silicon Valley. San Francisco (never call it “Frisco” in front of a native!) and L.A. have many hidden elements to reveal to the visitor, which may be part of why they are two of the top five cities most visited by foreigners. California itself is the second most visited state after New York with over 6.1 million visitors in 2011 (New York had 9.5 million, 98% of whom went to New York City), just ahead of Florida (which surpassed CA for a couple years during the worst of the recent global economic crisis). Many went to L.A. (3.6 million) or San Francisco (2.9 million), or even both – a favorite itinerary for visitors is to start in one city and drive to the other along the famous Highway One coastal route through towns like Monterrey and Santa Barbara.
A view of Santa Barbara from the top of the Courthouse
Santa Barbara (my home!) – “the American Riviera” – is a microcosm of most of the elements that make the state great. The small city and its outskirts (population about 220,000) lie in a relatively thin strip of flat land and rolling hills, nestled between the Sierra Los Padres mountains to the north and the Santa Barbara Channel to the south (on the other side of the uninhabited Channel Islands is the Pacific Ocean). The charming Spanish colonial-style architecture draws many visitors, particularly to the Court House, the Presidio, and the Santa Barbara Mission, known as the “Queen of the Missions” (21 were built by the Spanish in the early 1800s in what is now California). Zoning laws keep downtown buildings to three floors or less and in Spanish colonial style, with the exception of the 7-story Grenada Theater, which is the only tall building that survived the 1925 earthquake and was recently restored to its former glory. The city offers a wide variety of culinary delights from around the world, but is best known for Mexican and fresh seafood. The nearby Santa Barbara wine country, though less famous than Sonoma and Napa in Northern California, produces some of the best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah anywhere. (The 2004 film Sideways did a lot for the fame of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir). For those enjoying the outdoors, the town and surrounding area offer spectacular beaches for surfing, swimming, and sunning; bike routes both gentle and challenging; numerous hiking trails with spectacular views of the town and ocean or access to hidden pools, springs, and small waterfalls; and mountains with jumping-off points for hang gliders or challenging cliffs for rock climbing.
Santa Barbara Mission
A Santa Barbara winery barrel room
Rock climbing is one of the many extreme and adventurous sports for which California is perfectly suited, drawing many adherents from around the world to some of these sports’ most celebrated Meccas. For rock climbers, small coastal sites like Santa Barbara’s Gibraltar or San Ysidro Canyon would be enough to make a visit worthwhile. Larger sites like Tahquitz/Suicide, Pinnacles, Lake Tahoe, and the Needles are deservedly more famous and offer climbs that can take all day to do just one (in the Needles, be sure to use helmets, as falling rocks are a real concern). The two most famous sites, however, are Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite National Park (included Tuolumne).
Yosemite National Park
Half Dome cliff in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is internationally famous as one of the best places on earth for climbing “big walls” – cliffs ranging in height from 1,000 to 3,300 feet (300 meters to one kilometer) that can take 3 days or more to climb. Yosemite’s most well known formations are El Capitan, Half Dome, Glacier Point and Sentinel, although there are many more to choose from. El Capitan’s “The Nose” is a route up the prominent flare in the massive, granite cliff’s face, which generally has been considered a difficult climb that requires climbers to sleep on ledges at least two night during the multi-day ascent. It also was not climbed without the aid of equipment to support the climber (as opposed to “free climbing” with the equipment being used merely to catch the climber should he or she fall) until 1993, when Lynn Hill became the first to do so after multiple attempts; she later repeated her feat in 23 hours to be the first to climb the route both free and in less than a day. The typical lodging for a Yosemite climber is to pitch a tent at the famous Camp 4, where hundreds of climbers gather every summer. Like everywhere in Yosemite, campers must hang their food in “bear bags” over lines between trees – bears will break into tents and cars in search of food!
The author of this article is climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
For those climbers who like to sleep on level ground but still long for some of the United States’ most challenging cliffs, Joshua Tree National Park in the Mohave Desert near Palm Springs is an excellent choice. The cliffs are found on the thousands of rock mounds that appear haphazardly strewn about the desert floor. They were formed 100 million years ago from cooling magma beneath the surface that was then exposed through erosion from groundwater. The resulting rock is very rough, tending to wear out both shoes and finger tips in the course of several days of climbing. Few climbs are more than 4 or 5 rope lengths (the standard rope is 165 meters), and it is easy to find all the routes one desires without ever exceeding a single rope length. In the winter, climbers will seek cliffs with a southern exposure to benefit from the sun’s warmth, while in the summer, it would be insane to climb under the heat of the sun rather than in the welcome shade. The other benefit to J.T. compared to Yosemite, besides shorter climbs, is that many are also far more accessible, not requiring mountain hikes to reach the bases. While a first glance in the daytime suggests a lifeless place other than the Joshua Trees (yuccas made famous from the cover of U2’s Joshua Tree album that can live up to 1,000 years), cacti and small desert plants, the place comes alive at night. It is a rare treat to rise before the sun (not something I’m known to do at home) and get a high vantage point to watch the coyotes, hares, and other creatures wandering through one’s campsite.
A rock in Joshua Tree National Park
Of course, there is a lot more to do in California besides rock climbing. For those interested in other adventure sports, California’s Sierra-Nevada Mountains offer excellent skiing, especially at Lake Tahoe for downhill enthusiasts, and in many places for Nordic (cross-country) skiing, a personal favorite being Sequoia National Forest with its Sierra redwoods (Also known as giant sequoias, they are the world’s largest trees by total volume, with an average height of 50–85 meters and diameter of 6–8 meters. Their coastal cousins, the California redwood, are the tallest trees on Earth, reaching up to 115.5 meters in height. California, incidentally also is home to the world’s oldest trees, the Great Basin Bristlecone pines, the oldest of which is 4,843 years old). Mountain biking, base jumping, and hang gliding are among the many other popular adventure sports that draw visitors and residents to the state’s mountains. For those more drawn to the ocean, surfing, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking are also draws.
Sierra redwood (Giant sequoias) in Sequoia National Park
As noted at the beginning, the state does offer much of interest for those seeking milder pastimes. Whether one is drawn to relax in wine country, take in the culture of the larger cities, seek the more urban thrills of theme parks, or just drink in the state’s beauty, there is plenty to see.
Sunset in Santa Barbara
A few facts:
California is the most populous state in the United States (nearly 38 million), the third largest (400 km wide, 1,240 km long), and has an economy that would make it the world’s eighth largest if it were an independent country. At the time Europeans arrived, it was inhabited by about 70 different American Indian tribes. The Spanish did not start settling Alta California in earnest until the 19th century, shortly before losing it to Mexico, which in turn quickly lost it to internal rebellion (the very brief California Republic) and annexation by the United States (By contrast, the Mexican state of Baja California has a longer history of European settlement). California became the 31st state of the United States of America on September 9, 1850.
California is home to three National Hockey League teams (2012 Stanley Cup winners Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks); two National Football League teams (San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders); four National Basketball Association teams (Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and Los Angeles Clippers – formerly the Buffalo Braves); five Major League Baseball Teams (Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants – the Dodgers and Giants both having previously been based in Brooklyn, NY); and three Major League Soccer teams (Los Angeles Galaxy, Club Deportivo Chivas USA, and San Jose Earthquakes).
June 30, 2012
Posted by: Marian Cotter, Regional Security Officer
State Capital: Madison
Wisconsin dairy farm
Born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin, I am grateful for influence the State and its culture has had on my life. Located in the upper Midwest, Wisconsin is known for its agriculture, natural beauty, and a history of progressive politics (for example, the first workplace injury compensation law and the first state income tax). Its nickname as “America’s Dairyland” attests to the importance of agriculture in the state’s economy. Wisconsin leads the nation in cheese production and is number two in milk production. The economy also includes a diverse manufacturing base – home to internationally known companies such as Kohler Company (plumbing fixtures), Mercury Marine (the world’s finest marine motors — made in my hometown), Briggs & Stratton (gasoline engines), and Harley Davidson (I don’t need to tell you what they make).
Local Culture and Famous People
Early settlers came to the region as fur traders, while lead mining later attracted more people to migrate. Many of these miners built themselves homes dug into the hills – giving residents the nickname “badgers.” Subsequently, the University of Wisconsin adopted the badger as its mascot. Officially we are called “Wisconsinites,” but another popular nickname, thanks to all of the milk and cheese that we produce, is “cheesehead.” Waves of German immigrants in the 19th century brought beer and sausage making to the state – including Miller Brewing and Oscar Mayer. There is nothing more a Wisconsinite loves than to enjoy some cheese and crackers and a bratwurst, with a few cold beers, during a Green Bay Packers football game (American football, of course). Our Packers, who have been around since 1921 and hold the most National Football League (NFL) titles, are the only community-owned team in the NFL. Our loyalty runs deep.
Green Bay Packers (left) and their fan, the “cheesehead” (Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated) (more…)
June 29, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: Iowa
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Posted by: Randall Hager, Agricultural Attaché
State Motto: “Our Liberties We Prize, and Our Rights We Will Maintain”
As an Iowan born and raised, the quote from the movie Field of Dreams that I use for the title has always held a special place. The state’s great people, rich agricultural land and natural beauty make it a land to behold. From bicycle rides across the state, to leadership in agriculture and industry and with a rich history of achievements, Iowa is full of possibilities and opportunities.
The Iowa State Capital building in Des Moines
History and Symbols
Iowa was admitted to the Union on December 28, 1846 as the 29th state. It ranks 30th in population with about three million people, and 23rd in land area. Its agricultural base is well known; nearly 90 percent of its surface is arable land, making it a leader in corn and soybean production. Iowa is often called the “Tall Corn State” for good reason. That leadership in agriculture helps Iowa to play a leading role in world food security, through among others Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, and events such as the World Food Prize.
State Flower: Wild Rose
The 26th Iowa General Assembly designated the wild rose as the official state flower in 1897. It was chosen for the honor because it was one of the decorations used on the silver service which the state presented to the battleship USS Iowa that same year. Although no particular species of the flower was designated by the General Assembly, the wild prairie rose (rosa pratincola) is most often cited as the official flower. Wild roses are found throughout the state and bloom from June through late summer. The flower, in varying shades of pink, is set off by many yellow stamens in the center. Before significant settlement and development of agriculture, much of the state was covered by prairie grass.
Iowa Quarter: Nation’s Only Education Quarter
In 2004, when Governor Vilsack and the head of the U.S. Mint unveiled the 29th commemorative quarter at the foot of the Iowa Capitol, the focus was on education. Schoolchildren, teachers and dignitaries were on hand for the event as the Iowa quarter was introduced as “the nation’s only education quarter.” The coin features Iowa artist Grant Wood’s “Arbor Day” painting of a one-room schoolhouse and teacher with students planting a tree. The motto on the coin is “Foundation in Education.”
State Bird: Eastern Goldfinch
State Bird: Eastern Goldfinch
The Iowa General Assembly designated the eastern goldfinch, also known as the American goldfinch and the wild canary, as the official state bird in 1933. It was chosen as the state bird because it is commonly found in Iowa and often stays through the winter. Seeds from dandelions, sunflowers, ragweed and evening primrose are the main source of food for the eastern goldfinch (carduelis tristis). In late July or early August, goldfinches build their nests from plant materials and line them with thistledown. The pale blue-white eggs of the eastern goldfinch hatch after two weeks and then, following two to three more weeks, the young birds leave the nest. The top of a male’s head is topped with black and their bright yellow body also has black wings and tail. The female has a dull olive-yellow body with a brown tail and wings. The male goldfinch acquires the same dull plumage in the winter months.
State Tree: Oak
State Tree: Oak
The oak was designated as the official state tree in 1961. The Iowa General Assembly chose the oak because it is abundant in the state and serves as shelter, food and nesting cover for many animals and birds. It is difficult to find a tract of natural woodland in Iowa that does not have in it at least one species of oak. No other group of trees is more important to people and wildlife. Acorns, the nuts of oak trees, are a dietary staple of many animals and birds. Deer, wild turkeys, pheasants, quail, wood ducks, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, bluejays, nuthatches, grackles and several kinds of woodpeckers are a few of the species that depend on acorns for a significant portion of their diet.
Iowa’s Unique Symbols and Cultural Touchstones
What are common thoughts about Iowa? That it is flat is one we hear on occasion. Some forty years ago, writers from the Des Moines Register and a few others rode across the state and learned differently. Thus, the origin of RAGBRAI, the Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa with its nearly ten thousand riders traversing the state in a week. It is now the oldest, longest, and biggest bike ride of its kind. The rolling landscape, especially in the northeast, and rich soil come in part from glacier activity centuries ago. RABRAI tradition holds that cyclists departing the western border dip their back wheels in the Missouri, and a week later, their front wheels in the Mississippi.
The Iowa State Fair
The world-famous Butter Cow is located in the Agriculture Building. In 2006, Sarah became the Fair’s fifth butter sculptor.
The internationally-acclaimed Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines is Iowa’s great celebration, a salute to the state’s best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. It is the true heartbeat of the Midwest, unequaled and unduplicated.
A Young Farmer!
The Iowa State Fair, the inspiration for the original novel “State Fair” by Iowan Phil Stong, three motion pictures and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical, is without a doubt the country’s most famous state fair. National media frequently rank the Fair as one of the top events in the country. In 2004, USA Weekend named the event the #2 choice for summer fun in the United States, topping New York City’s Times Square, Cedar Point Amusement Park Resort in Ohio and Disneyland in California.
Midwest Living magazine named the Fair one of the “Top 30 Things Every Midwesterner Should Experience.” The Fair is also included in the New York Times best-selling travel book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” and the subsequent travel book, “1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before you Die.”
- John Wayne, Movie Star
- Herbert Hoover, 31st President
- Dr. Norman Borlaug, Scientist
- John Vincent Atanasoff And Clifford Berry, Co-inventors of the digital computer
- Vice President Henry A. Wallace, Served under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and founded Pioneer Hi-Bred International
- Carrie Chapman Catt, Suffragist leader whose efforts resulted in women’s right to vote
World Food Prize
The World Food Prize was conceived by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1986, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. In 1990, Des Moines businessman and philanthropist John Ruan assumed sponsorship of The Prize and established The World Food Prize Foundation, located in Des Moines, Iowa.
Display from the Mississippi River Museum
The two rivers that form much of Iowa’s borders are the Mississippi on the east, and the Missouri on the west. Early explorers, many French, traveled down the Mississippi and began settlements in rivers cities like Dubuque, named after Julian Dubuque. Earlier travelers include the French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, who travelled along the river in 1673. They were commissioned by the colony of New France to map the unexplored region. The entire area was claimed for France in 1682 by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who named it “Louisiane“ in honor of French King Louis XIV.
These rivers have served well the economic development of the state, economically transporting agricultural products to seaports in the south.
Iowa is well know as a leading agricultural producer, primarily corn and soybeans, and livestock. Its contribution to the state economy is about 17 percent of total value, as manufacturing, industry, and commerce have become increasingly important to the overall strength of the economy.
Iowa’s farmers take a great deal of pride in their history!
June 29, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
, Travel and Tourism
| Tags: Alamo
, San Antonio
, Space Center
| 1 Comment
Posted by Alyona Gorbatko, Information Assistant
When I found out that I would spend a year in Texas as an exchange student, I was a bit disappointed. I thought Texas was far less interesting than the rest of the United States. Now I can say, I wasn’t bored exploring the diverse areas of The Lone Star State.
The name Texas is based on the Caddo word ‘tejas’ meaning ‘friends’ or ‘allies’
To begin with, Texas is very different from the rest of the United States. Because of its unique history and culture the official Texas slogan is “Texas: It’s Like a Whole Other Country.” And it is. They say everything is bigger in Texas – well, no wonder, since Texas is the second largest state in the country (after Alaska), covering 262,017 square miles (the size of France). This huge area features many natural attractions, historical locations, scientific sites and recreation areas. It is a “Land of Cowboys, Oil, and Space.”
Texas became the 28th U.S. state on December 29, 1845. However, it is the only state to enter the United States by treaty instead of territorial annexation. It also is the only state that used to be an independent country, from 1836-1845. After Texas’s annexation, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the United States, a contributing factor in the Mexican-American War. The two nations fought from 1846 through 1848, when they signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That treaty gave the United States more than 1.2 million square kilometers (500,000 square miles) of Mexican territory in what now makes up parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. Some say that without Texas independence, the U.S. map would look very different today.
Alamo, San Antonio
Texas is widely associated with the image of the cowboy. This is due to its long history as a center of the cattle industry that thrived after the Civil War. Yes, there are still cowboys in Texas, but they don’t represent the majority of the state’s population. Despite the popular stereotype, not all Texans ride horses, and it’s quite unusual to drive down the highway and see someone riding a horse. However, it’s quite usual to see people wearing cowboy hats and boots as a sign of their Texan pride.
Another nationally recognized statement of Texan pride is a sign that says “Don’t Mess with Texas”, which you might spot driving through the state. Now a trademark of the Texas Department of Transportation, the phrase was a slogan of a statewide anti-littering campaign in 1986. Having become a Texas cultural phenomenon, it nowadays appears on countless items of tourist souvenirs. (more…)
June 27, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: Florida
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Posted by: Alamanda Gribbin, Political Officer
In 2011, approximately 86 million tourists visited Florida, making it one of the world’s top vacation destinations and third among U.S. states (hosting over 20% of all visitors to the United States). What attracts all these visitors to the Sunshine State? Much like the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, who in 1513 discovered Florida while searching for the fabled Fountain of Youth, visitors are attracted to Florida’s natural beauty and mild climate. While many visitors may know that Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando is the most popular theme park in the world and that with 1350 miles (2170km) of beaches Florida has the longest coastline of any state in the contiguous United States (only Alaska’s is longer), few are aware of the many other distinctive features that make Florida unique.
Theme park visitors
Florida is home to the oldest permanent European settlement in North America (outside of Mexico), St. Augustine, founded by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565, forty-two years before the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. Florida is also home to the “sports fishing capital of the world (Islamorada),” the “dive capital of the world (Key Largo),” the “lightning capital of the world (Clearwater),” the “cigar capital of the world (Ybor City),” the “psychic capital of the world (Cassadaga)” and the “shark tooth capital of the world (Venice).” Gatorade, refrigerators, and sun tan lotion were also developed in Florida. In addition, who can think of Florida without conjuring up images of our prized oranges? Juice from oranges is Florida’s number one cash crop and Florida produces approximately 75% of all U.S. oranges and provides 40% of the world’s supply.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Florida also played a pivotal role in the development of the United States’ space industry. The first American to orbit the moon (1962), the first U.S. manned space flight (1965), and the first moon landing (1969) all launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). In addition, between 1981 and 2011, 135 space shuttle missions launched from KSC. As someone lucky enough to have witnessed several space shuttle launches, there are few moments as awe inspiring as watching a space shuttle ascend into the sky while the ground shakes beneath your feet.
Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center
“River of Grass” is the name given to one of the United States’ most unique and treasured eco-systems, the Florida Everglades. The Everglades is the largest remaining subtropical wilderness in the United States. It consists of 1.5 million acres of saw grass marshes, mangrove forests, and hardwood hammocks dominated by wetlands and is home to many rare and endangered species. If you are looking for a “real Florida adventure,” nothing tops an airboat tour of the Everglades. Just be sure to keep your eyes open for a glimpse of Florida’s exotic wildlife including the Great Blue Heron, Florida panthers, manatees or alligators. If you happen upon one of Florida’s 50 species of snakes, use caution and remember this handy rhyme in identifying the lethal coral snake, “Red touches yellow, dangerous fellow. Red touches black, friend to Jack.”
American Alligator in Everglades National Park
Tourists and adventure seekers are not the only ones attracted by Florida’s natural beauty and unique atmosphere. Nobel Prize winning authors Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Ernest Hemingway both called Florida home. Those interested can still tour Hemingway’s original house and see the notorious pool with the penny and Hemingway’s personal typewriter. In addition, visitors can also catch a glimpse of the famous “Hemingway six-toed cats” which populate the grounds. Many of these are direct descendants of Hemingway’s original cat. Die-hard Hemingway fans can also visit Sloppy Joe’s Bar on Duval Street in Key West– one of Hemingway’s favorite hangouts. Each July the bar holds the annual Papa Hemingway Look-A-Like contest, drawing bearded contestants from around the world.
Florida Keys, Islamorada
(Editor’s note: For another exotic opportunity in Florida, visitors in winter can try snorkeling with manatees in Crystal River, north of Tampa. It’s fascinating to swim with these surprisingly graceful creatures up close. It’s also very cold.)
June 26, 2012
Posted by: John Engstrom, Anti-Corruption Resident Legal Advisor
Michigan is commonly referred to as “the Great Lakes State,” in reference to the fact that its mitten-shaped border is virtually surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes (Lakes Michigan, Superior, Huron and Erie). Michigan’s largest city, Detroit, is often referred to as the “Motor City” and “Motown,” in reference to the fact that Detroit is the automobile capital of the world. While Michigan is often defined by its lakes and cars, for me Michigan is also defined by its rich and diverse music, as I’ll explain below.
Michigan Isle Royale National Park
Certainly cars and lakes are a big deal in Michigan. Although the automobile was not invented in Michigan, Henry Ford transformed the world of manufacturing when he perfected assembly line production of his “Model T.” The development of Ford’s assembly line radically transformed not only the nascent automobile industry, but all manufacturing. Because of assembly line manufacturing, automobiles suddenly became affordable for a tremendous number of Americans, not only the very rich. In 1914, an assembly line worker at Ford could purchase a Model T with four month’s pay. During World War II the U.S. automobile companies efficiently transformed into weapons manufacturing facilities, supplying the United States and its allies (including the Soviet Union) with state of the art weapons. Today, metropolitan Detroit remains the automobile capital of the world and the home of Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Chrysler.
Old Ford cars in a museum
Virtually surrounded by the Great Lakes, Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world and more shoreline than any state, except Alaska. Moreover, Michigan has over 11,000 inland lakes. Twenty percent of the world’s fresh surface water is contained in the Great Lakes, which guarantees Michigan a plentiful supply of water to support its agriculture and tourism industries. Every summer, Northern Michigan in particular draws visitors from around the world to enjoy its beaches, golf courses, camps and natural beauty. These short “Pure Michigan” advertisements capture some of Michigan’s natural charm:
Michigan’s music often reflects the rich and often gritty, industrial environment from which it was produced. Michigan’s love for its homegrown music and musicians was reflected in a Chrysler advertisement that premiered during the 2011 Superbowl, featuring Michigan’s most famous rapper, Eminem.
The Detroit area’s diverse population, including French, German, Hispanic, Polish, Ukrainian, Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern and African American mixes many rich cultural traditions. This melting pot has produced some of the United States’ finest music and musicians in the fields of jazz, early punk and garage rock, Motown and soul, rock and roll, and techno. In jazz, for instance, Elvin Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Milt Jackson, Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, James Carter and Kenny Garrett all rose out of the Detroit jazz scene. In the past year, post-bop saxophonist Kenny Garrett has played to enthusiastic Ukrainian audiences in both Kyiv and Lviv.
Of course, Detroit is most identified with Motown music from the 1960s and early 1970s. Motown records and the Motown sound was founded by a Ford assembly-line worker named Barry Gordy. In a manner similar to Ford’s assembly line, Gordy produced original music by then-unknown African American musicians that quickly gained international popularity; the songs were written by a team of songwriters, the music was performed by a house band (now known as the “Funk Brothers”), and the singers were hand-picked by Gordy. All of the songs were recorded in a single Detroit house (currently a museum in Detroit) and when the musicians were not performing, they were expected to package their records in the same house. Motown’s musicians were some of the first African American groups to gain immense popularity outside of the African American community. In this way, they were able to influence the advancement of civil rights issues that were heating up at that time. Among Motown’s many musicians were Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, The Temptations, Smoky Robinson and The Four Tops. (Editor’s Note: Former Supreme Mary Wilson visited Kyiv last year.)
Motown Historical Museum in Detroit, which previously served as Motown’s headquarters, Hitsville U.S.A.
Detroit continues to produce creative music and musicians. One cannot attend a Eurocup match without hearing a contemporary Detroit influence again and again, as the refrain from the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” is repeated to rev-up the crowd. For a long time, the White Stripes were a regular fixture in Detroit bars and clubs. Last year, the band officially broke up.
As an introduction to some of Michigan’s music and musicians, here are fifteen videos reflecting Michigan’s world-famous and the not-so famous. Enjoy.
1. The White Stripes: Seven Nation Army.
2. ? and the Mysterians (1960’s garage rock): 96 Tears.
3. Kenny Garrett (live in Kyiv): Giant Steps.
4. Aretha Franklin: Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
5. Alice Cooper: I’m Eighteen
6. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels: Devil With a Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly
7. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
8. Madonna: Like A Virgin
9. The Romantics: What I Like About You
10. Stevie Wonder (and Jeff Beck): Superstition
11. Eminem: Lose Yourself
12. Diana Ross and the Supremes: Love Child
13. Detroit Cobras: Cha Cha Twist
14. John Lee Hooker: Boom Boom
15. Cybotron (Juan Atkins): Cosmic Car
June 25, 2012
Posted by: Samuel Gabel, Public Affairs Section Assistant
Bill Clinton was born in the little town of Hope, Arkansas in 1946. During his school years, he showed himself to be a bright student and a skilled saxophonist. At one point, he even considered pursuing a career as a professional musician. However, he came to the conclusion that the place he would shine best would be in public service.
Bill Clinton boyhood home in Hope, Arkansas
After high school, he attended Georgetown University where he studied international affairs. He also won the prestigious Rhodes scholarship which enabled him to study at Oxford University in England. After his time at Oxford, he attended Yale Law School, where he met Hillary Rodham. After their graduation, in 1973 the two were married.
The Clintons moved to Arkansas where Bill soon entered into the political arena. He was elected attorney general in 1976. In 1978 he became the governor of Arkansas, one of the youngest U.S. governors in history. He suffered a defeat in the next election, but regained his position in the one following. His government took a centrist approach, pursuing both liberal and conservative causes.
Clinton, as the newly elected Governor of Arkansas, meeting with President Jimmy Carter in 1978
In 1992 he ran for president. He beat incumbent George H.W. Bush in a campaign emphasizing economic concerns. In 1996, he defeated Bob Dole to win a second term as president. His presidency was best known for economic prosperity and the infamous Lewinski sexual scandal. The latter brought him the dubious distinction of being only the second president in U.S. history to be impeached (like Andrew Johnson before him, he was acquitted by the Senate).
Despite this setback, toward the end of his presidency and in the years since, he has managed to regain a good deal of popularity. Today he remains active on the geopolitical stage, supporting various causes in education, health, and the environment. The Clinton Presidential Library can be found in Little Rock.
Night view of the William Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, AR
Douglas MacArthur was born into a military family in 1880, at Little Rock Barracks in Arkansas. He was raised on the Western frontier, where, it is said, he learned to ride and shoot even before he could read and write. He went on to graduate at the top of his class from the U.S. Army Military Academy in 1903. During World War I he lead troops in France, and was promoted to brigadier general. In 1935 he was tasked with creating and organizing the Philippine armed forces. When it was time for him to transfer to a new duty station, he resigned his position in the U.S. military to continue his work with the Filipinos.
MacArthur in Manila, ca. 1945
Because of the threat posed by Imperial Japan in 1941, MacArthur was recalled to active duty. He was appointed commander of U.S. Army forces in the Far East. When the Japanese attacked the Philippines, MacArthur and his forces were defeated. He and his family were evacuated to Australia where he famously declared, “I shall return.”
In 1942, MacArthur was appointed supreme commander of the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific. He oversaw the U.S. “island hopping” campaign. In 1944, after his forces had liberated the Philippines from Japanese control, he famously waded ashore and declared, “I have returned.”
MacArthur officially accepted Japan’s surrender in 1945. In the following years, he oversaw Japan’s military demobilization and economic reconstruction.
Emperor Hirohito and General MacArthur, at their first meeting, at the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, 27 September, 1945
When the Korean War broke out, MacArthur was appointed head of the U.S.-led coalition of United Nations troops. Under his command, the coalition pushed the North Korean Communist forces out of South Korea, and up through North Korea, all the way back to the Chinese border. Soon, Chinese troops poured over the border and pushed MacArthur’s men back into South Korea. In response, MacArthur asked President Truman for permission to bomb China. Fearing that such action could lead to World War III, Truman refused. MacArthur protested Truman’s decision and was subsequently removed from his position for insubordination. His removal triggered a good deal of uproar among the American public.
In 1952 many suggested that MacArthur should run for president. However, he never ran for office. Throughout the rest of his life he continued to enjoy public admiration. He died in 1964. Today a number of streets and public works named in his honor carry on the memory of this son of Arkansas.
Medal of Honor Plaque for Douglas MacArthur affixed to MacArthur barracks, West Point, NY
June 24, 2012
Posted by: Doug Morrow, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer
Mark Twain Paddle steam boat on the Mississippi River at Hannibal Missouri
Missouri has always been a microcosm of the United States. The 21st largest state, with the 18th largest population, its voting results have accurately predicted the Presidential elections in all but two elections since 1904. It sits on the border between the “North” and the “South,” fusing Northern industriousness with Southern hospitality, and also straddles the dividing line between the Western frontier states and the “Eastern establishment.” Ironically, a place so representative of the United States is a state that most Americans know little about.
People in the United States of America carry with them many stereotypes about different regions of the United States, and the people who live there. Those who live in the Midwest – including Missourians – often say that people living on the East Coast are too arrogant, too work-obsessed, and not concerned enough about “family values.” By contrast, they often feel that those living on the West Coast are too liberal and too free spirited. A common joke in the Midwest goes: “When God shook the tree of life, all the fruits and nuts landed in California.” But those on the two coasts uncharitably get their revenge by calling the Midwest and Missouri “flyover country” – essentially a place you would only ever see from an airplane. Those who actually believe this are missing a lot that’s worth seeing.
Nonetheless, these stereotypes give us a good sense of the average person in Missouri: hardworking, but with a great respect for family; moderate politically and economically, and skeptical of radical policy changes; humble, and scornful of those who flaunt their power or wealth. It’s a combination that allows for people with a wide variety of outlooks to live together in relative harmony. In one town in extreme northeast Missouri, for example, three very different communities live side by side: the Mennonites, blue collar whites, and the hippies. Mennonites are a religious but moderate group who believe in modesty and eschew many types of modern technology, believing that constantly chasing after the new and the different makes it difficult for them to focus on their relationship with God. (They have been compared to the Amish, but are less stringent in their rejection of twentieth century and later technology.) The blue collar whites in northeast Missouri embrace new technology, but share a social conservatism with their Mennonite neighbors. And the hippies there share a love of technology with their blue collar white neighbors, but also share a deep appreciation for the “back to the land” movement with their Mennonite friends.
U.S. President Harry Truman
At the crossroads of the United States, Missouri has also produced or welcomed some of the greatest figures in U.S. history. It was the home of U.S. President Harry Truman, who ended racial discrimination in the armed forces, helped end World War II, worked to create the United Nations, bankrolled the Marshall Plan to rebuild post-war Europe, implemented the Berlin Airlift, and helped create NATO.
Missouri was also the home of “America’s writer,” Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and also one of the United States’ most notable political satirists. The state also gave us Jesse James, one of the “Wild West’s” most infamous outlaws, who came to notoriety through a series of daring train robberies. Finally, Missouri was the final resting place and home of folk hero and frontiersman Daniel Boone, who was adopted into the Shawnee tribe of Native Americans before returning to action to defend European settlements in the Revolutionary War era.
Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cake
With millions of acres of rolling green hills, forests, lakes, rivers, canyons, cliffs, rock arches, river bluffs, fishing spots, hunting grounds, hiking, and opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, historic sightseeing, and more, hundreds of thousands of people enjoy Missouri’s pristine outdoors each year. One of the most beautiful parts of Missouri is the “Lake of the Ozarks,” located in the center of the state, a little over three hours west of the largest city – St. Louis. St. Louis, incidentally, is one of the premier Midwestern food capitals, boasting local delicacies like toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, the “prosperity” sandwich and also the original home of peanut butter and cotton candy!
June 23, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: Maine
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Posted by: Daniel Cisek, Deputy Press Attaché
Motto: Dirigo (I lead)
The state of Maine is located on the northeast coast of the United States, bordering Canada to the north. Part of New England, Maine is the least densely populated state east of the Mississippi River (population: 1.3 million), with large expanses of natural beauty. It’s nicknamed the Pine Tree State, and nearly 90% of its land is forested. A rural state, Maine has no big cities, the largest being Portland with 65,000 people. Maine’s dense forests have provided jobs for generations of Mainers, and its natural beauty and long coastline make it an ideal summertime vacation spot.
Maine has the distinction of having been visited by Europeans long before the rest of the future United States – evidence suggests that Vikings from Scandinavia sailed to the coast of Maine around 1000 A.D. The first European settlement in Maine was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in August 1607, three months after the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, America’s first permanent settlement. The settlers of Popham abandoned the colony after a year, sailing away in a ship they constructed (the first seaworthy ship built in the New World), named Virginia of Sagadahoc. The precise site of Popham was only rediscovered in 1994.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
The territory of Maine was originally part of the colony (and later state) of Massachusetts, but in 1820 the people of Maine established their own separate state. Historically, Maine is notable for being the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Stowe’s book played a large role in inflaming anti-slavery feelings in the North during the period preceding the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865).
Maine is also associated in American historical memory with the U.S.S. Maine, a navy ship that exploded and sank in Havana Harbor in Cuba in 1898. The explosion was called an act of war and blamed on Spain, and the reaction in the United States played a big role in the outbreak of the Spanish-American War that same year. Later historians have found no clear evidence that the explosion was an attack rather than an accident, but Americans still know the famous slogan that stirred up war fever in the United States: “Remember the Maine!”
Parks, Beaches, Lighthouses, and More
Acadia National Park is considered the crown jewel of Maine. The park sprawls for 30,000 scenic acres across Mount Desert Island and several other islands and peninsulas along the coast. With wide-open ocean vistas, the tallest peaks on the Eastern Seaboard, the contiguous United States’ only fjord (more can be found in Alaska), and well-known spots like Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs, and Cadillac Mountain, it’s not to be missed. The park offers the change to hike, bicycle the famous carriage roads, explore by kayak, or simply sight-see.
Hikers in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA
Maine is home to other renowned parks and recreational areas, each of which provides an unforgettable experience to the outdoor lover. Baxter State Park is a 205,000-acre wilderness area of unrivaled hiking and camping. The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is a 92-mile corridor of lakes and rivers perfect for canoeing. There’s the Appalachian Trail, the long, backpacking byway, which stretches 281 miles in Maine (and continues another 1,899 miles through 13 other states – almost 3,500 km long). And finally there’s the White Mountains National Forest, with 45,000 acres to explore in the western mountains of Maine. Maine has more than thirty sites in its state-park system, many of them almost as spectacular as their better-known cousins.
Maine beaches come in many sizes and shapes. White sand ocean beaches cover much of the southern Maine coast and dot the rest of the long Maine coastline. By day, beaches are teeming with people building sandcastles, body surfing, searching for seashells and just soaking in the sun. In the evening, the low rumble of the surf crashing upon the shore offers a soothing backdrop for a romantic stroll. However, saltwater beaches only present half of the beachgoing opportunities in Maine. With 6,000 lakes and ponds, fresh water beaches abound.
More than 60 lighthouses dot the Maine coast from the well-known Nubble Light in York to West Quoddy Head, the easternmost lighthouse in the United States. Lighthouses were once the saviors of the seacoast, their bright beacons and resonating foghorns cutting through foul weather, warning ships of impending danger and guiding them safely back to shore. Today, these distinctive structures still carry the romance and drama of their past and make for a fascinating visit.
Edmund S. Muskie
In addition to Harriet Beecher Stowe, several other prominent Americans have origins in Maine. Edmund Muskie served as U.S. Senator and Governor of Maine, and was nominated for Vice President for the Democratic Party in 1968. Muskie’s father, Stephen Marciszewski, emigrated from Russian-controlled Poland to the United States in 1903 and changed his name to Muskie. Edmund Muskie is the only American of Polish origin to have been nominated for the office of Vice President (or President).
In honor of Muskie’s life and achievements, the U.S. Congress established the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program in 1992 to provide opportunities for graduate students and professionals in the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine, to study in the United States. The program has had nearly a thousand Ukrainian participants since 1992.
Other notable Mainers include the popular author Stephen King, who lives in Bangor and has written dozens of best-selling novels in the horror and supernatural genre, with worldwide sales of around 350 million books. King sets much of his work in Maine. His most popular books include Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, It, and The Dark Tower. I’ve read many of his earlier works, and although I haven’t kept up with his more recent books, I consider myself a big fan. Many of King’s stories have been made into movies, such as Carrie, The Shining, Stand By Me, and The Shawshank Redemption.
The author E.B. White also lived in Maine for a lengthy period. White is best known for his beloved children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, which is set in a farm community in Maine. The book is a funny, moving, and sad account of the friendship between a young pig and the wise spider who spins her web in his pen. In reality, the story is a metaphor about growing up and the loss of childhood innocence, and is rightly considered a classic of children’s literature. Almost every schoolchild in the U.S. reads the novel, and many adults continue to remember it with great fondness, including myself.
June 22, 2012
Posted by: John Gregg, Visa Chief
Growing up in Alabama, I learned about the victories of the civil rights movement in my state from an early age. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. conducted some of his most famous marches here in places like Montgomery, Selma, and my hometown of Birmingham. You can visit sites from this history today among many others in a green, friendly, and sports-mad state.
Alabama Civil Rights Trail
Europeans settled Alabama in large numbers in the early 1800s. The settlers replaced the Native American population and developed an agricultural economy based on slavery. Alabama became the United States of America’s 22nd state in 1819, but seceded with several others at the start of the U.S. Civil War. The Confederacy’s first capital was in Montgomery, and even after the war, racial discrimination persisted for a long time. It took Dr. King and countless other civil rights activists to push Congress to end legal discrimination in the 1960s. Today, an entire district of Birmingham’s historic downtown is devoted to memorials of the protest era. The state’s economy is considerably more diversified that the cotton farms of the past. For instance, Birmingham has both a large steel industry and a significant medical sector, based at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville
The city of Huntsville played a key role in another aspect of America’s history: the space race. The rockets and capsules that carried American astronauts to the moon were developed there, and many have been preserved at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center along with other attractions. These include Saturn moon launch vehicles, Apollo Program command and lunar modules, and the U.S. Space Camp which attracts children from around the world. (more…)
June 21, 2012
Posted by: Daniel Cisek, Deputy Press Attaché
The “Land of Lincoln” has been the adopted home state of three men who went on to become president, including Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and our current president, Barack Obama. The one Illinois-born President was Ronald Reagan.
Illinois is the home state of President Barack Obama, and Chicago is his home city. His cabinet and staff reflect a strong connection to Illinois. As a native-born Chicagoan myself, I share the pride of many from Illinois to have one of our own in the White House. Obama was born in Hawaii, but began his professional career in Illinois and adopted it as his home state. He became a U.S. Senator from Illinois in 2004 and was a resident of Illinois at the time of his election to the presidency in 2008.
President Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961, to a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas.
After working his way through Columbia University in New York, President Obama moved to Chicago in 1985, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants. He went on to attend Harvard Law School, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Upon graduation, he returned to Chicago to help lead a voter registration drive, teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and remain active in his community.
Barack Obama on the South Side during his first campaign, for the State Senate. Photograph by Marc PoKempner.
In a 2008 speech during his first presidential campaign, Obama reflected on how his work in Chicago had helped form his political and social views:
“When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with and stood with and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago.”
On November 4, 2008, Obama delivered his victory speech to a huge crowd of impassioned supporters in Grant Park in downtown Chicago. Among the notable people in the crowd were fellow Chicagoans Oprah Winfrey and Jesse Jackson.
The members of Obama’s cabinet (roughly equal to cabinet of ministers, although the U.S. officials are known by the title “Secretary”) and staff also display strong connections to Illinois. Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton grew up in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is a former Congressman from Illinois. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a native-born Chicagoan and the former chief of the Chicago Public School System. And Obama’s first two White House Chiefs of Staff were both from Illinois: Rahm Emmanuel grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is now the mayor of Chicago, and William Daley is the son of Chicago’s legendary mayor Richard J. Daley.
As the nickname “the Land of Lincoln” implies, one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, also called Illinois his home state. Although he was born in Kentucky, Lincoln moved to Illinois at age 21 and worked as a lawyer in Springfield. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois, and lost a run for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois, before going on to win the presidency in 1860. Lincoln is revered as one of the greatest leaders in U.S. history for his wise and determined leadership during the Civil War. He was simply known to many of his contemporaries as “the man who saved the union.” Although he was a life-long opponent of slavery, Lincoln did not start out as a radical abolitionist (a believer in the immediate end to slavery in all states). Instead, he promoted a policy of not allowing slavery to spread to new territories in the West, while encouraging the Southern states to let the institution die out gradually.
At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Lincoln’s goal was to preserve the Union, but as the brutal fighting continued, his position evolved and he became determined to end slavery. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the first step in the process of ending slavery in the United States. He was assassinated just a few days after the end of the Civil War in 1865. His contributions to U.S. history were immense, and the people of Illinois are still proud to call their state “The Land of Lincoln.”
Statue of “Young Lincoln” first dispalyed-published) 1945. Now in Senn Park, Edgewater Chicago.
President Ulysses S. Grant also called Illinois home. One of four U.S. presidents born in Ohio, Grant first joined the army (serving in the Mexican-American War) and then moved to Illinois as a shopkeeper. In a well-known story, Grant unsuccessfully ran a small shop in Galena, Illinois, and struggled with his excessive drinking until the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 caused him to rejoin the army. After Grant achieved a series of stunning victories in the West against Southern forces, Lincoln chose him as commander of all U.S. forces. Although Grant could not match the military brilliance of his Southern counterpart, General Robert E. Lee, he was nonetheless a tenacious and aggressive general who deployed the superior manpower and material resources of the North with ruthless determination against the South. Lincoln famously said of Grant, in comparison to his previous, more timid commanders, “I can’t spare this man, he fights.” Grant personally accepted Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. Grant won the presidency in 1868 as a resident of Illinois, and although he pursued humane and progressive policies toward freed slaves and native Indian tribes, his administration was marred by widespread corruption. Grant is remembered as a great general but a below-average president.
“On to Richmond”. This painting depicts Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant on the field during the Battle of Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864
One other U.S. President had an Illinois connection – Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, and raised in the small town of Dixon, Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in Illinois before moving to California to begin his career as an actor in Hollywood. Reagan later adopted California as his home state, serving as its governor before becoming President, but the people of Dixon still proudly remember and commemorate his origins there.
Ronald Reagan and General Electric Theater, 1954-62.
June 21, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: “The city of big shoulders”
, Chicago Bears
, Chicago Blackhawks
, Chicago Bulls
, Chicago Cubs
, Chicago Jazz Festival
, Chicago White Sox
, Grant Park
, Maid-Rite Sandwich Shop
, Old Town Art Fair
, Route 66
, Taste of Chicago
, Ukrainian Village Festival
, Wrigley Field
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Posted by: Laurence J. Socha, Consular Officer
Printed on every Illinois license plate is the phrase: Land of Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, the United States’ 16th president and the leader of the nation during the country’s civil war, lived most of his life in Illinois and personifies the earnest and hardworking state. You can find his image everywhere: on the pennies people throw into Buckingham Fountain in Chicago for good luck, on monuments in countless public parks, and on the license plates of trucks carrying farmers across their fields or cars transporting commuters to work. Illinois belongs to Lincoln and to the nearly 13 million residents who live in the diverse state.
Buckingham Fountain in Chicago at night
Even Superman lives in Illinois – or so the Illinois House of Representatives declared in 1972. You can find a 15 foot statue of him in the town of Metropolis, IL. As in the comic books that made Superman famous, even the town’s newspaper is named the Planet. Roadside curiosities and cafes dot the state. The famous U.S. highway, Route 66, began in Chicago and ran all the way to Los Angeles before it was replaced by the modern interstate system. Along this route, small restaurants pioneered the idea of curbside service for the passing traveler. The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shop in Springfield, Illinois, was one of the first U.S. drive-thru windows, and it is still open today. Many family-run diners have been replaced by fast-food restaurants along contemporary modern highways, but McDonald’s too calls Illinois home. The fast-food chain has restaurants in over 100 countries, but its headquarters is located in the suburbs of Chicago.
Barack Obama with Superman
“The city of big shoulders” was one title poet Carl Sandburg used to describe Chicago. The third largest city in the United States, Chicago is known for its hard work ethic and its rich immigrant history. It remains a city of neighborhoods. The summer is a great time to enjoy street festivals. Old Town on the city’s north side has been hosting art lovers for the Old Town Art Fair in June for over 60 years. In July, the Taste of Chicago brings all of Chicago’s best restaurants to Grant Park along the city’s lakeshore for what organizers call the “world’s largest food festival.” The Chicago Jazz Festival fills the park with the music of local and internationally known artists in August. Finally, in September, the Ukrainian Village Festival opens for a two day celebration. Visitors can enjoy vereniki and the music of Ukrainian bands in the shadow of the golden domed churches off Superior Street on the city’s near north side.
Taste of Chicago
While food and music festivals draw large crowds in the summer, Illinois’ strong sports tradition gathers fans throughout the year. Chicago is home to champion professional sports teams including the Chicago Bulls (basketball), Chicago Bears (football), and Chicago Blackhawks (ice hockey). Like New York, the city also boasts two professional baseball teams: the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. And while both teams have won the World Series several times in their history, the Cubs haven’t won the championship for 103 years. However, you wouldn’t know it from the way the fans fill Wrigley Field to capacity for every game.
Wrigley Field, Home of the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team
Since Lincoln’s time, Illinois has been a place of interest and excitement. So whether you’re drawn to the Superman statue or the Wrigley Field stands, the residents of Illinois will be proud to welcome you to their home state.
June 20, 2012
Posted by: Eric A. Johnson, Public Affairs Officer
Pier At Sunrise
Americans – especially those in literary and academic circles – often go in search of the “Great American Novel.” Some eventually make the case for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, or some other beloved American masterwork and stop there. As for me, I’ve always thought that almost everyone tends to go looking in the wrong time and place. The Great American Novel is actually the Great American Story. And it was written by native Mississippian and Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner. What makes his Great American Novel a little more difficult to find is that he parceled out his story across fourteen novels and a handful of shorter works devoted to the imaginary Mississippi district known as Yoknapatawpha County.
Map of Yoknapatawpha County, drawn by William Faulkner
If you doubt that rural Mississippi – located along the eastern banks of the Mighty Mississippi River itself – is a land of imagination, then just think about how many other great American writers called the state their home: Pulitzer prize winning novelist Eudora Welty, Pulitzer prize winning playwright Tennessee Williams, and ground-breaking African-American writer Richard Wright to name only a few. And while the Mississippi River has earned the affectionate nickname of the Big Muddy due to the color of its water, Mississippi’s words have always flowed clear.
I’ve crisscrossed the state of Mississippi many times on my motorcycle, by train, and even in more mundane automobiles in my quest for that elusive font of Mississippi prose. Armed with Faulkner’s map of Yoknapatawpha County from his masterpiece Absalom, Absalom! (if you’ve never read any Faulkner before you should probably start somewhere else like Go Down, Moses instead), I travelled all around Lafayette County as I tried to trace the boundary between the imagined and the real. Although I always failed to find that line, I got to see a lot of the state along the way.
For me, every proper journey to Mississippi begins with a visit to Faulkner’s wonderful house in the town of Oxford. Home to the University of Mississippi (affectionately known as “Ole Miss”), Oxford is such a great place that it’s no wonder that Faulkner made it his home although he never finished college himself. After spending some time in Oxford, I travel to Eudora Welty’s home, the state capital of Jackson, to visit some of my college friends. Although it is the largest city in the state, Jackson’s population is still under 175,000 as most of Mississippi’s three million inhabitants live scattered across the state in small towns. It’s no wonder that the imagination of home grown writers like Tennessee Williams tended to wander both up the Great River (the original meaning of the word “Mississippi” in the Ojibwe Indian dialect) to Memphis, Tennessee or down the Great River to New Orleans, Louisiana. But before I go back to the River, I always try to pay a visit to the bustling coastal cities of Gulfport and Biloxi along the Gulf of Mexico.
And while I must confess that I look at Mississippi first and foremost as the home of America’s greatest writers, Mississippi prides itself most of all for being the “Birthplace of America’s Music” – and this is not just because Elvis Presley, the King of Rock-n-Roll, was born in Tupelo. Mississippi is the home of the blues and rhythm & blues, in addition to rock-n-roll which evolved from it. Blues founders and masters Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley – all of them hail from Mississippi. The state also gave birth to country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers who was later followed by fellow Mississippians Conway Twitty, Charlie Pride, Tammy Wynette, LeAnn Rimes, and Faith Hill (most of whom migrated northwards towards that other musical mecca of Nashville, Tennessee). Hey, even Britney Spears was born in the town of McComb! So clearly there has to be a special kind of magic in the very word – in the magical incantation – known as “Mississippi.” After all, every American kid grows up playing hide-seek and counting off his or her Mississippis – “one Mississippi, two Mississippis, three Mississippis, …” — to mark the passing of each second.
And if you prefer films to music, I could always point out that three of American’s greatest African-American actors come from Mississippi: James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Oprah Winfrey – who, of course, went on to become America’s number one talk show host, America’s first African-American billionaire, and the mother of Oprah’s Book Club which is designed to promote the next Great American Novel. This, of course, only brings me right back to where I started with William Faulkner.
The reason why Faulkner’s novels of Yoknapatawpha County are the Great American Story is because the tales of this small imaginary county encapsulates the Story of America. As someone who has spent half of his life living inside America and half of it outside, I’ve always thought that one of the things which makes the United States of America unique is that it is the one country in the world which lives in its future rather than in its past or present. And as someone whose paternal ancestors fought for the North and whose maternal ancestors fought for the South during the U.S. Civil War, I’ve always found myself caught somewhere between Winston Churchill’s “history is written by the victors” and Aeschylus’ observation that “knowledge comes through suffering” – in other words, from loss.
As a Mississippian – and as a Southerner born into a regional American culture which had experienced defeat and was still caught in its past – Faulkner was able to understand America as no one had ever done so before him. In his story of Yoknapatawpha County, Faulkner realized that the American Dream of our Founding Fathers was built upon two “original sins:” the stripping of life and land from America’s native population and the enslavement of African-Americans (the only Americans who didn’t come to America by choice). For it is only when we can acknowledge and then overcome our two inherited “sins” that we can hope to create the “more perfect union” described by our Founding Fathers in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. And it is Faulkner who provides us with the roadmap for making the imagined become real.
June 19, 2012
Posted by: Daniel Cisek, Deputy Press Attaché
Indiana corn fields
Although I’m from Chicago in the neighboring state of Illinois, I’ve spent lots of time in Indiana. My mother was born and raised there, and when I was growing up, we would pack up the family car and visit my grandmother every month in the tiny farming town of Fowler, Indiana. Later I went to graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington, a beautiful, quirky, and always-interesting college town.
Indiana farmland evening. Photographer: Yooperann
Indiana has larger cities and industry in the north, but is mostly known as an agricultural state. My own memories involve driving along highways surrounded by huge fields of corn and soybeans, and spending hot, hot summer days trying to cool off at the local pool in Fowler. At night, the heavy air would be lit up by lightning bugs, with the hum of insects all around. Indiana is lush and humid in the summertime, and it’s an unforgettable experience to roll down the highway with the windows open on a peaceful summer evening, listening to the crickets chirp and feeling the breeze from the warm moist air that nourishes the crops bursting from the ground. Although Ukraine lacks the humidity of Indiana, both places enjoy rich soil that provides an abundant harvest.
Indiana is in the Great Lakes area of the Midwest and borders Lake Michigan to the north. Indiana literally means “the land of the Indians,” although most of the Native American population was removed from the state almost 200 years ago and pushed west by the influx of European settlers. The state’s motto – “Crossroads of America” – highlights its central position along the country’s highways and railroads. The traditional nickname for people from Indiana is “Hoosier.” Debate continues as to the origin of the name, but the evidence suggests that it originally meant “woodsmen” or “rough hill people.” Other theories say that it comes from an old term for the local boatmen who rode on flat rafts, or from a black preacher named Harry Hoosier who traveled the region in the early 1800s. Regardless of its origin, Indiana residents use the term with pride.
Hoosiers love basketball. A popular movie (“Hoosiers”) from the 1980s illustrates the state’s love affair with the sport, as it follows a group of underdogs from a small town high school who manage to win the state basketball championship against all odds. Indiana boasts its own professional basketball team, the Indianapolis Pacers. It also has a professional American Football team, the Indianapolis Colts.
Indiana hosts the Indianapolis 500, a 500 mile auto race that takes place annually over the Memorial Day weekend (the last full weekend in May), at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. The event, billed as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, is considered one of the three most significant motorsports events in the world, and up to 400,000 attend each year.
Michael Jackson. Photographer: Anonymous
Perhaps the most famous Hoosier was pop superstar Michael Jackson, who was born in the gritty industrial town of Gary and had his first success there as a performer with his brothers and sisters in the group The Jackson 5. Other notable Hoosiers include: actors James Dean and Steve McQueen; musicians John Mellencamp, Axl Rose, and Cole Porter; writers Theodore Dreiser and Kurt Vonnegut; and basketball great Larry Bird.
Notre Dame University Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Photographer: Michael Fernandes
Indiana has several universities ranked among the best in the country, including Purdue University (known for its strong engineering programs), Indiana University, and the University of Notre Dame (famous for both the toughness and spirit of its legendary football team and its strong academic programs). Other notable universities are Butler University, Valparaiso University, Ball State University, and the University of Evansville. There are many private colleges and community colleges that offer opportunities to students from all academic backgrounds.
Landscape and Parks
In the north, Indiana is mostly flat grassland and farmland. Farther south near Bloomington, the landscape changes to rolling hills and forests. One of the state’s major natural attractions is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which extends along 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan. If you ever find yourself in Chicago in the summertime, it’s an easy train ride to visit the Dunes on the South Shore Line. Visitors come to enjoy scouting for rare species of birds, flying kites on the sandy beach, or just enjoying the sun and sand. Hikers can enjoy 45 miles of trails over rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers, and peaceful forests.
June 18, 2012
Posted By: Gareth Vaughan, Political Officer
Arguably one of the most distinctive of the United States of America’s 50 states, Louisiana is perhaps best known for its annual Mardi Gras celebration. In traveling throughout the state, however, any visitor will quickly realize that there is far more to Louisiana than Bourbon Street. Named for King Louis XIV, the French were the first to claim the Louisiana territory as their own. As settlers from such areas as French Acadia (now part of Canada) moved to Louisiana, they brought with them slaves from Africa and the Caribbean, and the state’s unique Creole and Cajun cultures began to develop. The impact of Louisiana’s French ancestry can still be felt today across Southern Louisiana, from French language news reports in Lafayette, to New Orleans, where such world famous restaurants as Galatoire’s and Café du Monde serve Creole dishes like shrimp etouffee and powdered sugar donuts known as beignets.
Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans
Louisiana’s inimitable mixture of French, Spanish, African and general U.S. cultures makes it a food lover’s paradise. Most visitors likely find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of Louisiana’s food. Although most people tend to think of New Orleans restaurants when they think of Louisiana, delicious food can be found in all of the state’s varied regions. I am not a native Louisianan, but I have had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time traveling throughout the state, and while one of my favorite spots for fried shrimp in Cameron Parish may or may not have survived Hurricane Gustav in 2008, there are still a great number of places that I am hoping to visit on my next trip back to the United States.
Shrimp Po’Boy sandwich
New Orleans is undeniably the center of Louisiana cuisine. Some of the best known chefs in the world have worked here, including Chefs Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme. Today, millions of food lovers visit New Orleans to feast on its world famous Po’Boy sandwiches and sip Sazeracs in any of the city’s hundreds (thousands?) of bars. Alongside the muffelatta, an often massive sandwich that features a variety of Italian meats paired with an olive salad, the Po’Boy is likely New Orleans’ most well-known culinary creation. The Po’Boy sandwich typically consists of fried shrimp or oysters or roast beef. Order it dressed with shredded lettuce, tomato and mayo – or without. For the more adventurous, most restaurants serve such traditional Cajun and Creole delicacies as boudin balls (deep fried and battered pork and rice sausage), hog’s head cheese (essentially what it sounds like), and fried alligator. (more…)
June 17, 2012
Posted by Arthur Evans, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer
Amish Country in Ohio
Ohio, also known as the “Buckeye State,” gives travelers a chance to sample a real cross-section of American life. Located in the middle of the United States, Ohio contains some of America’s most historic urban centers of industry and trade such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Akron; vast tracks of farmland and “one stop light” towns that invoke the nostalgia of the American heartland; and vibrant immigrant and ethnic communities. One perennial tourist draw is Ohio’s Amish community, one of the world’s largest. Each year thousands of visitors travel to northeastern Ohio to admire handmade Amish furniture and handicrafts and observe a way of life that has not changed for centuries.
This vibrant mix of communities makes Ohio politically diverse and a vital stop on any Presidential campaign. Ohio is one of America’s “swing states” (a state that can vote either Republican or Democrat) and a bellwether for how the nation will vote. As political junkies will attest, Ohio has voted for the winning presidential candidate in all but one of Nation’s elections dating back to 1944.
In Ohio’s southeast corner, on the shores of the mighty Ohio River, sits Cincinnati, one of America’s great river towns and ranked by Lonely Planet as the third best tourist destination in the U.S. Nicknamed the “Queen City” for the steamboats that used to frequent her docks, Cincinnati offers visitors a chance to relive the days of Mark Twain by taking a city tour on an old-style paddle wheel steamboat. “Cinci’s” cultural development is closely tied to its large population of German immigrants, a fact that accounts for its wide range of locally brewed lagers and pilsners and what is reputed to be the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany. Cincinnati also offers an eye-popping array of architecture for a small city. Offerings include the open, dynamic glass and steel style of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center or the art deco grandeur of the city’s Central Railroad Station. Its soaring half dome is said to be the largest unsupported dome structure in the world.
OSU William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library East Atrium
In the center of the state is Columbus, home to Ohio State University — one of America’s largest institutions of higher learning. Columbus is an avid “college town” and the university is ever present. Visitors will notice that the school’s colors of crimson and grey are a common motif, adorning everything from shirts and caps to cars and houses. On fall weekends, when Ohio State’s football team plays a home game, all of Columbus joins in the pageantry. A quintessential American moment for any foreign visitor would be a tailgate BBQ (a parking lot cookout or picnic) before an Ohio State game. On a related note, foodies have found Columbus a hidden gem worth discovering. Local ice cream shops serve up flavors like wildberry lavender and whiskey pecan. Farmers’ markets offer fresh produce from around the state and are not to be missed.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Visits to Cleveland and nearby Akron and Canton add a little grit and glam to any tour of the Buckeye state. These cities fueled America’s economic rise in the 20th century and were home to some of America’s greatest captains of industry. Cleveland was the birthplace of the Rockefeller fortune and Standard Oil. Akron is known as the “the Rubber City” for its production of tires and remains the global headquarters for Goodyear and other major producers. The fortunes earned from these enterprises have endowed the area with world class art museums and two symphony orchestras. Cleveland is an annual stop for Rock & Roll royalty since it is also the site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and hosts the annual induction ceremony. Some of America’s most influential rockers hail from this area of Ohio, groups like The Pretenders, DEVO, and more recently, Akron’s blues-rock power duo: The Black Keys.
June 16, 2012
Posted By: Kevin Lee, Information Systems Officer
State Capital: Nashville
I was born in California but I proudly call Tennessee my home. The word Tennessee has its origin in the Cherokee language. It was originally pronounced “Tanasi.”
“Tennessee – America at Its Best” was adopted as the official state slogan of Tennessee in 1965.
The Tanasi monument
The Music State
Tennessee, especially Nashville, is considered by many as the home of America’s music. It is home to the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and bears the nickname “Music City, U.S.A.”. By the 1950s, the city’s record labels dominated the genre with slick pop-country (Nashville sound). Performers reacting against the Nashville sound formed their own scenes in Lubbock, Texas and Bakersfield, California, the latter of which (Bakersfield sound) became the most popular type of country by the late 1960s, led by Merle Haggard. Nashville’s predominance in county music was regained by the early 1980s, when Dwight Yoakam and other neo-traditionalists entered the charts. Today, there is still a thriving country music scene, however there are other genres developing, such as indie, rock, and metalcore.
Shania Twain in concert
Tennessee’s Most Famous Product
Jack Daniel’s is a brand of sour mash Tennessee whiskey that is the bestselling whiskey in the world. It is known for its square bottles and black label. It is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee by the Jack Daniel Distillery, which has been owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation since 1956. Despite being the location of a major operational distillery, Jack Daniel’s home county of Moore is a dry county, so the product is not available for consumption at stores or restaurants within the county, although the distillery does sell commemorative bottles of whiskey.
Although the product generally meets the regulatory criteria for classification as a straight bourbon, the company disavows this classification and markets it simply as Tennessee whiskey rather than as Tennessee bourbon.
Jack Daniel’s founded in 1866
Famous People born in Tennessee
The list includes Justin Timberlake, Usher, Tina Turner, Miley Cyrus, Chet Atkins, Davy Crockett, Nathan Bedford Forest, Bob Harper, Isaac Hayes, Dolly Parton, Morgan Freeman, and Quentin Tarantino.
Morgan Freeman from Memphis, Tennessee
Tennessee Statehood History
Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796 as the 16th state. It was the first state created from territory under the jurisdiction of the United States federal government. Apart from the former Thirteen Colonies only Vermont and Kentucky predate Tennessee’s statehood, and neither was ever a federal territory. The state boundaries, according to the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, Article I, Section 31, stated that the beginning point for identifying the boundary was the extreme height of the Stone Mountain, at the place where the line of Virginia intersects it, and basically ran the extreme heights of mountain chains through the Appalachian Mountains separating North Carolina from Tennessee past the Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota, thence along the main ridge of the said mountain (Unicoi Mountain) to the southern boundary of the state; all the territory, lands and waters lying west of said line are included in the boundaries and limits of the newly formed state of Tennessee. Part of the provision also stated that the limits and jurisdiction of the state would include future land acquisition, referencing possible land trade with other states, or the acquisition of territory from west of the Mississippi River.
During the administration of U.S. President Martin Van Buren, nearly 17,000 Cherokees—along with approximately 2,000 black slaves owned by Cherokees—were uprooted from their homes between 1838 and 1839 and were forced by the U.S. military to march from “emigration depots” in Eastern Tennessee (such as Fort Cass) toward the more distant Indian Territory west of Arkansas. (Editor’s note: The legal basis for this relocation was the Treaty of New Echota, signed in 1835 by a dissident faction of Cherokee that had only a dubious claim to speak for the nation. Then-President Andrew Jackson lobbied the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty in 1836.) During this relocation an estimated 4,000 Cherokees died along the way west. In the Cherokee language, the event is called Nunna daul Isunyi—”the Trail Where We Cried.” The Cherokees were not the only Native Americans forced to emigrate as a result of the Indian removal efforts of the United States, and so the phrase “Trail of Tears” is sometimes used to refer to similar events endured by other Native American peoples, especially among the “Five Civilized Tribes.” The phrase originated as a description of the earlier emigration of the Choctaw nation.
June 15, 2012
Posted By: Arthur Evans, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer
Lexington Horse Farm
The state of Kentucky is a land of verdant green and quiet charm. Kentucky was the first region west of the Allegheny Mountains to be settled by American pioneers like Daniel Boone. James Harrod established the first permanent settlement at Harrodsburg in 1774. To this day, the state’s eastern Appalachian Mountains retain that rugged mystique with ample opportunities for hunting, fishing, mountain biking and canoeing.
Kentucky was caught in the middle during the Civil War, supplying both Union and Confederate forces with thousands of troops. Not quite the Midwest and not quite the South, the state is unique in its history and geography. Visitors always seem to find a way to spend just one more day in the bluegrass state, perhaps because the countryside of its central counties is a painter’s dream of rolling hills, lonely oaks, limestone cliffs and old black tobacco barns. Four-board “Kentucky-style” fences run like stitching across the pastures of stately horse farms with names like “Three Chimneys,” “River Fork” and “Silver Spring.”
Oak barrels with whiskey
Kentucky’s most famous attraction is the horse race that bears its name: The Kentucky Derby. The race, which has been run every consecutive year since 1875, is referred to as “the most exciting two minutes in sport.” On the first Saturday of May, twenty of the world’s best thoroughbred horses line up at the starting gate at Churchill Downs to cover the one and a quarter mile track (2 km). The race caps the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival which is visited by tens of thousands each year.
Kentucky has long been known for its special brand of whiskey. Bourbon, named for one of the counties where it was first made, is created from a sour corn mash and cured in charred oak barrels. Distilleries dot the bucolic hills around the state’s two major cities, Lexington and Louisville and most offer free tours. Tour promoters have created the “Kentucky Bourbon Trail” to draw visitors to six of the better known distilleries in Kentucky: Jim Beam (Clermont), Maker’s Mark (Loretto), Wild Turkey (Lawrenceburg), Four Roses (Lawrenceburg), Heaven Hill (Bardstown), and Woodford Reserve (Versailles).
Louisville Slugger Museum
Of course there is more to Kentucky than just horses and bourbon. Baseball fans may choose to visit the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory and museum in Louisville Kentucky – home of the world’s largest baseball bat, a six-story replica of the bat used by baseball great Babe Ruth. Or the Muhammad Ali center, also in Louisville. History buffs will want to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in the rural center of the state. The simple cabin, now preserved as a national park, emphasizes the humble beginnings that helped shape the character of one of America’s great presidents.
June 14, 2012
Global Economic Statecraft Day is a global event on June 14th to highlight America’s commitment to put economics at the center of its foreign policy and to use diplomacy to advance America’s economic renewal. The key theme of the day is – America is open for business.
Please click on the link below for more information on the embassy website!
Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks at the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum and marks Global Economic Statecraft Day.
June 14, 2012
Posted by: Frances Westbrook, Regional English Language Officer
Vermont’s Equinox Mountain
The Green Mountain State, Vermont, joined the federal union as the fourteenth state in 1791, and was the first state to join after the original thirteen colonies. Vermont is the second least populous state in the United States (Wyoming is the least), and Vermonters often boast that there are more cows than people living in the state.
The first inhabitants of Vermont were Native Americans, mostly Algonquian and Iroquois tribes. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed the region for France in 1609, with French settlements starting in the area in 1666. Vermont remained part of France until after the French and Indian War, when it was claimed by Great Britain. Today many people of French or French-Canadian origin remain in Vermont, and the northern part of the state is located on the border with French-speaking Quebec, Canada. In fact, roughly three percent of Vermont’s population speaks French as their first language. (more…)
June 13, 2012
Posted by: Mary Ellen Murphy, Executive Office
The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, known as Rhode Island, is the smallest state but it is big in history and tourist attractions. It was founded for religious freedom and its forts guarding Narragansett Bay were very important beginning in the Revolutionary War.
There are many beaches and parks, as well as the famous Newport mansions from the late 1800s and early 1900s decorated by European craftsmen. Newport is also known for boating and the bay is often full of sailboats as well as cruise ships or the old-fashioned tall ships; the famous America’s Cup yacht race was held at Newport for many years.
Newport To Ensenada Yacht Race, AP Images
Brown University (an Ivy League school) is the most prestigious college in the state, but Johnson & Wales Culinary School, Rhode Island School of Design and other colleges also help ensure an active restaurant and cultural life for the capital Providence and the rest of the state. The University of Rhode Island is famous for agriculture.
Brown University, Photo by Tùng béo
Rhode Island produces a lot of potatoes and also has a lot of turf farms, as well as delicious seafood like lobsters, clams and all types of fish. There have been many immigrant groups including French, Portuguese, Italians and Irish which also add to the cultural scene.
Maine Lobster at Mooring Seafood Restaurant, Photo by Yun Zhang
The oldest Fourth of July parade in America is held in Bristol every year. RI is located between New York City and Boston and is a great place to live as well as have a vacation.
Bristol 4th of July Parade, Photo by Juan Carlos Cruz
June 13, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: Rhode Island
| 1 Comment
Posted by: Larry Socha, Consular Officer
Rhode Island is the smallest U.S. state but has a big concentration of historic sites and exciting activities. It’s only 60 kilometers across which means that on I-95, the large interstate that connects New York City and Boston, you can cross the state in under an hour by car. However, it’s worth taking an exit.
Sunset and Bridge in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport ranks as one of the state’s major tourism destinations. The town is home to the Touro Synagogue – the oldest surviving synagogue building in North America. Since the time of the colony’s founder, Roger Williams, religious freedom has been part of the state’s history. The state’s oldest Catholic Church is located in Newport as well. A young Jacqueline Bouvier married the handsome John F. Kennedy in the church in 1953. They celebrated their wedding reception at Hammersmith Farm – one of the many mansions built in Newport in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Several of these beautiful homes are open to the public today as museums.
A Newport mansion
Block Island is another favorite vacation spot in the state. In early summer, the island comes alive for Race Week in which over 100 boats race from Stamford, CT, down Long Island Sound, and around Block Island. Spectators can catch glimpses of the passing boats from one of the island’s many beaches. Captains beware, however, as the waters around the island are home to many shipwrecks including a Nazi submarine sunk by the U.S. Navy in 1945. The island has two picturesque lighthouses – one at the sandy northern end of the island and one atop the 56 meter Mohegan Bluffs at the southeast corner of the island. Both still function.
Rhode Island, Newport. Annual Newport Folk Festival held at Fort Adams State Park.
A summer day along the coast of Rhode Island is a relaxing break from the busy cities of the East Coast. Grab some sunglasses and some friends, and your ocean escape is only a few kilometers away.
View from Mohegan Bluffs, Photo by Joyce Gervasio
June 12, 2012
Posted by: Samuel Gabel, Public Affairs Section Assistant
Whitewater Falls. Photographer: Anonymous
When I think of my visits to North Carolina the thought conjures up images of smiling faces, woodland adventures in the Appalachian Mountains, and the sound of beautiful old-timey music.
North Carolina is a land full of natural beauty, ranging from the lovely streams, waterfalls, and forests of the Appalachians to the sunny beaches of the Outer Banks. Nantahala National Forest is a great place for those who love the outdoors. Here, one can see the frothing waters and hear the roar of Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. One can bike, hike, or even ride on horseback through the beautiful wooded hills. One can also raft through the foaming waters of the Nantahala River Gorge. Blessed with a number of fine beaches and great windsurfing conditions, the coastal regions are another great place to enjoy the outdoors.
Chimney Rock. Photographer: Marcel Houweling (Flickr)
In addition to its great outdoors, North Carolina has some great indoors as well, as embodied in the elegant Biltmore. The colossal chateau was built by the famous Vanderbilt family, in the woods near Asheville, as there woodland dream house. It is said to be the largest private dwelling built in America. Various tours are offered, as well as an opportunity to enjoy an overnight stay in the gorgeous mansion. In addition to the 135,000 square foot mansion, the Biltmore estate has acres of beautiful gardens and woods.
As well as beautiful sights, NC is also home to the beautiful sounds of traditional American Old Time Music and Bluegrass. Fans of these Appalachian styles of music gather in numerous festivals across the state.
The North Carolina coast is home to a history that might be best described as haunting. It was here in the coastal waters of North Carolina that the dreaded pirate Blackbeard was killed and beheaded. To this day, his ghost is said to roam parts of North Carolina’s coast, searching for his lost head. His sunken ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered at the bottom of Beaufort Inlet. Artifacts from the ship can be seen at the Beaufort Maritime Museum.
Kites over NC beach. Photographer: Anonoymous
Blackbeard isn’t the only ghostly thing in North Carolina’s history. There is also the tale of the vanishing colony. One of the first English colonies in America was established on Roanoke Island. The head of the colony, John White, left for England to obtain more supplies. When he came back, the colony had vanished. The houses had collapsed and not a soul was to be seen. Some say the
Appalachian music fest. Photographer: Anonymous
colonists died in attacks by the natives. Others say that they went to live with a native tribe, and were eventually absorbed by it. To this day, no one knows for sure what happened to the colonists. Today Roanoke Island is home to a museum, and lovely Elizabethan style gardens set up as a memorial to the lost colony. There is also, an outdoor theater where a large and talented cast performs a play about the story of the colonists.
In summary, if you are looking for a place with beaches, music, mountains, or mystery, North Carolina is a place worth your haunting.
June 11, 2012
By James Wolfe, Press Attaché
A Chautauqua Institution House
Photo by James Wolfe
On a small point on Chautauqua Lake, in the southwest corner of New York State, Reverend John H. Vincent and businessman Lewis Miller launched a small experiment in adult education for Methodist Sunday school teachers in 1874 that quickly started a nationwide movement and profoundly changed the face of education in the United States. Vincent’s The Chautauqua Movement (1886) has been hailed as “the first modern theory of adult education in the United States.” For 9 weeks every summer, people from all across the United States still gather in the idyllic grounds of the Chautauqua Institution to enjoy the ongoing programs based on the four pillars of Arts, Education, Religion (multi-denominational), and Recreation. In the 1980s, Chautauqua hosted a “Soviet Week” program that featured the exchange of performers, scientists, and lecturers with the Soviet Union until the latter dissolved.
Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua Institution
Photo by James Wolfe
In its heyday, the Chautauqua Movement saw hundreds of copycat “Chautauquas” spread throughout the country, either in fixed locations like the original or traveling from town to town with giant tents. The original Chautauqua University was a correspondence program that conducted most classes through the mail and targeted adults. Programs at the original and “daughter” Chautauquas included music, theater, dance, classes in the arts and performance, and lectures. Guest lecturers at the original Chautauqua Institution included Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the latter delivering his famous “I Hate War” speech there. (more…)
June 11, 2012
Posted by: Fran Westbrook, Regional English Language Officer
Vew of New York City from the Empire State Building (Photo by Hubert K)
Bright lights…big city. That’s the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they hear the words “New York.” New York City, the most populous city in the United States, is an important metropolis—but New York is more than just the city: it is also an important state.
New York State is the third-most populous state (after California and Texas) in the U.S. The original inhabitants of New York State were Native Americans, mostly from the Algonquian and Iroquois tribes. The first known European settler active in this region was Henry Hudson, who claimed the territory for the Dutch East India Company in1609. New York was then annexed by the British in 1664. The original European settlements in New York State were in the area known as the Hudson Valley. This region was the setting for Washington Irving’s famous stories, including “The Headless Horseman” and “Rip Van Winkle.” Other famous New Yorkers include abolitionist Frederick Douglass, women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony, inventor George Eastman, and virologist Jonas Salk. New York was and is home to a host of writers, actors, actresses, composers, musicians, and choreographers, due in part to the vibrant art scene in New York City.
Photo by Teddy Llovet
New Yorkers played important roles in the American Revolution. The Sons of Liberty were founded in New York, and New York endorsed the Declaration of Independence. Some say up to one-third of the battles of the Revolutionary War were fought in New York State. New York was the eleventh state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788. (more…)
June 10, 2012
Posted by:By James Wolfe, Press Attaché
Virginia sign, photo from en.wikipedia.org
At the time when the colonies established the United States of America, Virginia had the largest population and its leaders loomed large in the early days of the new country. Founding fathers from Virginia included General George Washington, who lead the Continental Army to win the War for Independence and served with distinction as the first President, and Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, served as Washington’s Secretary of State, became the country’s third President, and concluded the Louisiana Purchase, more than doubling the size of the country. In fact, four of the first five U.S. presidents were Virginians and no state has had more native sons become president than Virginia with 8 (Ohio’s 7 is a close second, followed by 4 each for Massachusetts and New York).
Louisiana Purchase, National Atlas
Jamestown, Virginia, founded in 1607, was the site of the first successful British attempt to found a permanent settlement on the North American continent. Roanoke Colony, also in Virginia, was settled in 1586, then abandoned, and resettled in 1587, after which its inhabitants simply disappeared, giving it the name “the Lost Colony.” (A fort and small sassafras plantation were established in 1602 on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts, but were quickly abandoned.) Jamestown was settled on the shores of the James River, both named for King James I of England, and produced the first American manufactured exports to Europe after Captain John Smith recruited a few Polish and German glassblowers and shipbuilders to join the colony in 1608 (the Poles eventually conducted the first successful labor strike in the New World, demanding and receiving the right to vote, which was originally reserved for the English settlers). The Virginia Company ran the colony until King James revoked the royal charter in 1624, two years after what became known as the Indian Massacre of 1622 (by Powhattan Indians) wiped out nearly one third of the settlers. Jamestown served as the colonial capital from 1616 to 1699 (with a few interruptions) when the capital moved to nearby Williamsburg, where the College of William and Mary (the second oldest university in the United States after Harvard) was established in 1693. Both were named for King William III (and Queen Mary).
View of William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1902.
It was due to the College of William and Mary that I first became truly acquainted with Virginia (and Jamestown) – I transferred there after two years at UCLA to complete my undergraduate studies. The sense of the place’s history is one of the first impressions one has arriving in what is now referred to as “Colonial Williamsburg,” where the main downtown area and old part of the W&M campus look much as they would have in the early 18th century. One also learns quickly that Thomas Jefferson is only the most distinguished of the many famous alumni of the university (besides his other accomplishments, he also founded W&M’s cross-state rival the University of Virginia). William & Mary also educated U.S. Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler as well as U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Speaker of the House Henry Clay, and 16 signers of the Declaration of Independence (and George Washington received a surveyor’s certificate and later served as Chancellor). Notable graduates also include Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) founder William Barton Rogers, Daily Show star Jon Stewart and actress Glenn Close. Colonial Williamsburg has become a major tourist destination, famous for its open air museum with performers and artisans wearing colonial-era costumes and speaking in the manner of the day.
Virginia has much more to offer the visitor than this slice of its early history, of course. In the southeast, Hampton Roads, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach provide access to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and are home to a significant regional shipping port and U.S. military bases. In the west, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley provide opportunities for skiing in the winter, rock climbing, and hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The beaches on the northeastern peninsula shared with Maryland and Delaware (DELMARVA Peninsula) feature the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague, where visitors can camp among the wild ponies that inhabit the islands (and steal unattended food).
Arlington National Cemetery
The state capital Richmond was the capital of the secessionist Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Famous Civil War battle sites can be seen in many parts of the state, some of the more popular being Fredericksburg and Manassas. More battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state, including Bull Run, the Seven Days Battles, Chancellorsville, and the final Battle of Appomattox Court House where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. The old Lee family estate in northern Virginia was transformed into Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, and continues to serve as the country’s chief military cemetery.
The area known as Northern Virginia is more than just the western suburbs of Washington, DC. It is home to many federal agencies, including the Defense Department headquarters at the famous Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Langley. A picturesque bike trail runs along the Potomac River from Arlington, through Old Town Alexandria, to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s family estate, which is now a museum with a tomb housing his remains. Northern Virginia is home to many internet and telecommunications businesses. While cotton and tobacco were once kings in Virginia, the largest export today is computer microchips.
June 9, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: New Hampshire
| 1 Comment
Posted by: Douglass P. Teschner, Ed.D., Director of U.S. Peace Corps/Ukraine
New Hampshire in autumn
New Hampshire is a small, but very beautiful state in the northeastern United States, having a population of 1.2 million. It borders Quebec, Canada, to the north, Vermont to the west, Massachusetts to the south, and Maine to the east. It also has a small coastline on the Atlantic Ocean with beautiful beaches.
New Hampshire is known for having the first primary in the U.S. presidential election cycle and is thus often visited by Presidential candidates. Traditionally a Republican state, New Hampshire is now considered a critical “battleground state” in the Presidential election, despite having only 4 electoral votes.
New Hampshirites are well known as independent thinkers, consistent with the famous state motto “Live Free or Die,” from a phrase originally written by a Revolutionary War hero, General John Stark. New Hampshire is also known for having low taxes, being one of very few states in the U.S. with neither a state income nor general sales tax. As one of the thirteen original colonies, it has a rich history including the historic seacoast city of Portsmouth.
Ashuelot River in Keene New Hampshire, photo from Flickr
New Hampshire’s rugged White Mountains are among the most impressive on the East Coast of the United States, and the state is popular for skiing, hiking, and camping. The state is also a well-known tourist destination for its beautiful lakes and autumn foliage. The highest peak, Mount Washington (6288 feet), is in the Presidential Range and has the record for the second-highest wind speed ever recorded (231 mph). You can reach the top on foot, by a famous cog railway, or even via a spectacular auto road.
As one of the six New England states, New Hampshire is easily accessible from Boston and the distances are short so you can spend less time traveling and more time enjoying the sites. It is a great place to visit, especially if you like beautiful natural scenery and outdoor activities.
June 8, 2012
Posted by: Daniel Cisek, Deputy Press Attaché
State Capital: Columbia
Motto: Dum Spiro Spero – “While I breathe, I hope.”
Although I’m not from South Carolina, I’ve had the good fortune to visit this picturesque state, including the historic port city of Charleston. South Carolina is known for its warm weather, beautiful beaches, parks and golf courses, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and as the setting for important events in U.S. history. Its nickname is the Palmetto State, in honor of its distinctive sabal palmetto palm trees that grow up to 20 meters high.
Sunrise on Myrtle Beach
South Carolina is graced with a warm climate that makes for a pleasant visit during much of the year, especially along the Atlantic coast, although summer can be quite hot and December to February are rather cool. Golf is a particular passion for visitors and locals alike, with 368 golf courses in the state. Myrtle Beach is well known for its magnificent beaches, with golf, shopping, amusement parks, museums, and other entertainment activities. Hilton Head Island is famous for its 12-mile stretch of beautiful beaches. The island has some of the best golf and tennis facilities in the Southeast United States. There is also fishing, biking, boating, shopping, and horseback riding. Natural harmony has been preserved on the island – no buildings can be higher than the trees and no billboards are allowed.
South Carolina also boasts eight national parks and monuments, including Congaree National Park, which is home to the largest old-growth floodplain forest in North America. The trees are some of the tallest in the United States. The abundant wildlife includes barred owls, flying squirrels, and river otters. Other national parks and monuments include the Cowpens National Battlefield, Fort Sumter National Monument, Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, Kings Mountain National Military Park, Ninety Six National Historic Site, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, and the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor. There are also dozens of beautiful state parks and recreation areas.
Hilton Head Island
South Carolina contains a number of well-regarded universities and colleges. The leading institutions include Clemson University, the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Furman University in Greenville, and the College of Charleston, which was founded in 1770 and is recognized for its high standards of undergraduate education. There are dozens of other universities, colleges, and community colleges that provide opportunities for students with a wide range of interests and academic backgrounds.
Many well-known Americans were born in South Carolina, including President Andrew Jackson, jazz great Dizzy Gillespie, rock and roll pioneer Chubby Checker, soul and funk master James Brown, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, world champion boxer Joe Frazier, and the comedians Stephen Colbert and Chris Rock.
South Carolina was one of the original 13 English colonies that became the United States. It was named after King Charles I of England, who first awarded the land to settlers in 1629. The territory of Carolina split into the separate colonies of North and South Carolina in 1710. The state played an important role in the Revolutionary War against England, events that are commemorated in several of its national parks. South Carolina was a slave-holding state and strongly opposed efforts by abolitionists to end slavery or at least stop its spread into new territories in the west. After the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 on a platform of preventing the spread of slavery to new territories, South Carolina was the first state to declare its secession from the Union. The first shots of the American Civil War were fired in Charleston in April 1861, when local forces attacked Fort Sumter, which was controlled by federal troops. The fort is still preserved as a national historic site, and I can well remember my own visit there and feeling the weight of history in the air.
June 7, 2012
Posted by: Samuel Gabel, Public Affairs Section Assistant
A Short History of The Star Spangled Banner
Baltimore Skyline at Night
(Maryland Office of Tourism, Film and the Arts)
Due to a complicated series of events, the United States and Great Britain found themselves once again at war in the years 1812 to 1814. The war is called by some the “Second War for Independence,” but is more commonly known as the War of 1812. The British forces wanted to capture the major American city of Baltimore, Maryland. However, to do so, they would first need to get past Fort McHenry, which guarded Baltimore’s harbor. The commander of the fort, Major George Armistead, was determined to defend his position against the invaders. To signify that determination, he had a massive United States flag, measuring 30 feet by 42 feet (9 meters by 12.6 meters), hoisted above the fort. On September 13, 1814, the British began their attempt to bombard the fort into submission. The bombardment lasted some 25 hours.
The Star Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Prior to the Bombardment, Francis Scott Key, a Maryland native and lawyer, had sailed out to the British fleet as part of a delegation to negotiate the release of some American prisoners. However, they were detained by the British, and could do little but watch as the British fired more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition at the little fort. The bombardment lasted well into the night. Key waited anxiously for the dawn’s early light to see if the American flag was still flying, or if Armistead had hoisted the white flag of surrender. To his relief and joy, as the morning broke, he could see the massive star spangled banner still waving proudly over the fort. Inspired by this sight, Key took out some paper and jotted down the first verse of a poem entitled “The Star Spangled Banner.” The poem was later set to music, and went on to become a popular patriotic song. It was officially adopted as the national anthem in 1931. (more…)
June 6, 2012
Posted by: Janine Balekdjian, Consular Intern
Massachusetts, one of the original thirteen colonies, has a special place in the nation’s history. It can arguably be called the birthplace of the United States; in 1620 the Mayflower pilgrims landed in Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Their successful establishment of a colony in Massachusetts (the second British in what is now the United States after Virginia) and feast of thanks a year later is the historical event behind the American holiday of Thanksgiving. The Boston Tea Party, a protest of taxation without representation, took place in Massachusetts’ capital not long before the “shot heard round the world” that began the American Revolution at the Battles of Lexington and Concord near Boston.
The USS Constitution
Citizens of Massachusetts are proud of its history and celebrate its traditions. In Boston, visitors can follow the Freedom Trail, which winds through the city to 16 of Boston’s historical sites. The trail starts at Boston Common, the oldest park in the nation, and stops at the Massachusetts State House, Faneuil Hall, and Paul Revere’s house, ending at a monument to the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle fought in the American Revolution. The trail also features the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest warship still afloat, King’s Chapel and Burying Ground, where many of Massachusetts’ first colonists are buried, and the site of the Boston Massacre, another event which precipitated the Revolution.
New Englanders also embrace tradition in their sports. The Boston Red Sox, founded in 1901 as one of the eight original American League teams, are one of the oldest baseball teams in the United States with one of the country’s most passionate fan bases. People throughout the six New England states, and especially in Massachusetts, are avid Red Sox fans. Enthusiastic Red Sox fans have kept Fenway Park, where the Sox play, sold out for nearly 9 straight years and counting, and often follow their team on the road to other teams’ stadiums. Fenway Park, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is the country’s oldest baseball stadium, and its motto, “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” rings true. In addition to watching the Red Sox play, visitors can take tours of the historic ballpark on days when there is no game. Both current and former Red Sox players are local heroes; Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, and David Ortiz are names you can hear spoken with enthusiasm throughout Massachusetts.
A Cape Cod beach
Of course, Massachusetts is much bigger than Boston. New England winters are quite cold and snowy, and skiing and winter sports enthusiasts can get their fill in the Berkshires. On the other end of the temperature spectrum, Massachusetts’ shoreline is a relaxing summertime escape. Cape Cod’s beautiful beaches offer swimming, sailing, and fresh local seafood.
Every part of Massachusetts is rich with U.S. history and traditions. Come explore!
June 4, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: Georgia
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Posted by: By James Wolfe, Press Attache
Atlanta Skyline, Georgia, Photo by k1ng (Flickr)
I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 15 from New York State, having no idea what to expect. Coming from the North, a lot of my friends were convinced I was going to some red neck wilderness out of the movie Deliverance. What I discovered was that my new home for the next two years was a delightful and diverse place with a rich history. My father worked for Coca Cola, one of the United States’ truly global brands, founded in 1886 and still headquartered in downtown Atlanta, where all soft drinks of any color or flavor are all referred to as “a coke.” The city is also home to CNN, the first 24-hour news channel that launched an entire industry based on the vision of billionaire founder Ted Turner, whom many thought was crazy to think there was a market for non-stop news. Atlanta is Georgia’s capital and largest city with a vibrant downtown. During my two years, I spent many weekend days in acting classes at the city’s Alliance Theater, and many evenings at concerts at the famed Fox Theater, the Omni auditorium, and other venues.
This classic Savannah home, known as the Mercer House, featured prominently in John Berendt’s novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Atlanta was also the birth place of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the world’s most famous civil rights leaders and proponents of non-violent resistance. Among the state’s other famous sons is Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer who became governor of the state before being elected President of the United States in 1976. Many famous entertainers were Georgia natives, including blues singers Ma Rainey, Ray Charles, and Otis Redding; Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell; film director Spike Lee; and baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete to play in the Major Leagues.
While the area around Atlanta boasts many interesting activities, from visiting Lake Lanier or Stone Mountain to rafting on the Chattahoochee River, the state has much more to offer. Athens, home to the University of Georgia, established itself as one of the country’s rock music hotspots in the early 1980’s, spawning bands and performers including the B-52s, REM, the Indigo Girls, and Danger Mouse, to name just a few.The city Savannah is one of the gems of the United State’s Atlantic Coast. It was founded in 1733 as the capital of the Georgia Colony, the last of the original thirteen colonies. General James Oglethorpe founded the colony with a royal charter (naming it after England’s King George) to serve as a buffer between the Carolinas and the Spanish colony of Florida and the French Louisiana territory. Oglethorpe’s plan as governor was to create a farming society with no slavery, but the plan failed and Georgia became one of the slave states that eventually seceded from the United States, prompting the Civil War (despite having been the 4th state to ratify the constitution). Savannah’s historic district continues to boast a charming atmosphere and many beautiful Victorian buildings.
June 3, 2012
Posted by usembassykyiv under 50 States in 50 Days
| Tags: New Jersey
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Written by: Janine Balekdjian, Consular Intern
Slogan: “New Jersey and You Are Perfect Together”
New Jersey may be small in area, but it is truly a microcosm of America. As the nation’s most densely populated state, New Jersey is home to dynamic cities like Hoboken and Jersey City in the north, the vast nature preserves of the Pine Barrens in the south, and a beautiful shoreline in the east. But New Jersey’s favorite citizens can give you a better picture of the state than we can:
Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, also served as Princeton University’s 13th President before becoming Governor of New Jersey. As President, Wilson was renowned for promoting progressive legislation domestically and developing a doctrine of national self-determination in his foreign policy. He is also the only U.S. President with a PhD, which he received at Princeton. Located in central New Jersey, Princeton University is one of the world’s top institutions of higher learning. Princeton was established in 1746, before American independence, and a battle of the American Revolution was even fought in Princeton’s Nassau Hall in 1777. Princeton’s striking historic architecture is a delight to visitors and students alike.
Bruce Springsteen is a rock singer who, in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, focuses many of his songs on average American life. He often cites his New Jersey upbringing as the inspiration for his lyrics. Springsteen was born in Long Branch, a seaside town on the Jersey Shore, and has played many shows in clubs on the Jersey Shore throughout his career. The Jersey Shore includes towns and resort areas of all types, from the exciting Seaside Heights, which boasts a boardwalk with amusement park rides, to the tranquil Cape May, which is one of America’s oldest seaside resorts and is renowned for its Victorian architecture. Atlantic City, considered the Las Vegas of the East Coast, is also located on the Jersey Shore.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Derek Jeter, an All-Star shortstop and team captain of the New York Yankees, was born in Pequannock Township in northern New Jersey. Jeter has played 18 seasons with the Yankees, winning five World Series championships with the team. Although the Yankees play in nearby New York, many New Jersey residents are fans of either the Yankees or the New York Mets. New Jersey does not have its own baseball team, but it is home to the New Jersey Nets, a basketball team, and the New Jersey Devils, a hockey team, both of which play at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey hosts football teams New York Giants and New York Jets. The MetLife stadium, where the Giants and the Jets play, will host the Super Bowl in 2014.
History, education, resorts, and sports: all these and much more can be found throughout New Jersey, America’s third state.
June 2, 2012
Author: Samuel Gabel, Public Affairs Section Assistant
Nickname: The Keystone State
Motto: “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence”
. Horse-drawn buggie, Pennsylvania, Photographer: Anonymous
Whether you are interested in unique cultures, the outdoors, or history, Pennsylvania has something worth your while.
For those who are fascinated by different cultures, Lancaster County Pennsylvania is home to the Amish, one of the most interesting cultural groups in America. Instead of using English as their primary language, they speak a dialect of German. Because of their religious beliefs, they live in a traditional manner, wearing old-fashioned clothing and typically avoiding the use of electricity and cars. Horse-drawn buggies are a common sight in Lancaster and surrounding counties.
Independence Hall, Pennsylvania, Photographer: HarshLight (Flickr)
For those who love nature, Pennsylvania boasts beautiful woodlands, hills, and mountains. In autumn, it seems as if much of the state has caught fire as the trees turn from green to splendid fiery hues. Allegheny National Forest, in northwestern Pennsylvania, offers trails where one can see beautiful waterfalls and wildlife.
For the history enthusiast, Pennsylvania is an especially rich place. It was here, thanks to the efforts of William Penn, (founder of Pennsylvania) that America first started experimenting with its now highly-prized ideal of religious freedom. It was also here, during the French and Indian War, that George Washington first got his military experience which would later aid him in liberating America from British rule. However, Washington certainly wasn’t the only Founding Father with ties to Pennsylvania. The state was home to the famous inventor, writer, diplomat and Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.
Of course, the state’s greatest claim to historical fame is the fact that in Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, and later the United States Constitution. The hall and the very room where the course of history turned can still be visited today.
Pennsylvania’s significant role in American history didn’t end with the Founding Fathers. The bloodiest, and arguably the most decisive, battle of the American Civil War was fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Today, the place where rifles crackled, cannons roared, and the tide of the war turned in favor of the North is a quiet national park with a museum and monuments commemorating the brave men who fought and died in the battle. However, once a year, on the anniversary of the battle, the stillness is broken, and an army of re-enactors dressed in historical uniforms and carrying replica period firearms descends on the place to share their love for history and to commemorate the terrible struggle. The list of important historical events and places in Pennsylvania goes on, but we’ll leave it at that for now.
The list of interesting people and places in Pennsylvania goes on as well, but I think, based on the sampling we’ve covered, one can safely draw the conclusion that Pennsylvania is a true keystone of Americana.
June 1, 2012
Delaware Breakwater Lighthouse, Photo by hatchski (Flickr)
Join U.S. Embassy Kyiv as we take you on a visual and informational tour of all 50 U.S. states over the next 50 days. “FIFTY STATES IN FIFTY DAYS: AMERICA THE UNEXPECTED” starts today, June 1 with Delaware!
We plan to give you an online tour of national parks, local culture, colleges, and off-the-beaten path destinations in each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. For more information about each state please visit U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s Facebook page, U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s blog, and the U.S. Embassy Kyiv website. We look forward to sharing our favorite unexpected places in our wonderful country! Come along for the adventure!
Delaware Memorial Bridge, Photo by jglsongs (Flickr)
Top Ten Delaware Facts
1. Origin of the name of the state: Named after an early Virginia governor, Lord De La Warr.
2. Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States constitution. It did so on December 7, 1787.
3. The lady bug is Delaware’s official state bug.
4. According to a survey by the National Science Foundation, Delaware has more doctoral-level (Ph.D.) scientists and engineers, as a percentage of the population, than any other state.
5. Delaware has no sales tax. Many people living outside Delaware will make the trek into Delaware to shop in the state because of the lack of a sales tax.
6. Milk is the official state beverage, and peach pie is Delaware’s official state dessert.
7. Delaware is the only state that does not have a national park, but it does have a national wildlife refuge, Bombay Hook.
8. You may not get married on a dare. Getting married on a dare is grounds for an annulment under Delaware law.
9. One of Delaware’s nicknames is “The Diamond State.” According to legend, Thomas Jefferson gave this nickname to Delaware, because he described Delaware as a “jewel” among states due to its strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard.
10. The sheaf of wheat, ear of corn, and the ox on the state seal symbolize the farming activities of colonial Delaware.
For more information go to http://www.VisitDelaware.com
Or watch the Delaware Tourism promotional video: